Thursday, March 08, 2007

Why we still need feminism

Last year amid all the noise from the right that preceded funding cuts to Status of Women Canada, feminism itself became part of the discussion. A number of right-wingers said "Women are equal now, we don't need feminism anymore". This seems to be a common attitude in the social conservative right; some go so far as to claim that feminism is not only unnecessary, but undesirable.

Which brings us to the fabulous Dolce & Gabbana ad above. In one of those serendipitous little events where one thing happens to highlight another, Dolce & Gabbana announced that the ad, which is for -- oh, I don't know... gang rape? is being pulled this week. The same week as International Women's Day, when we celebrate the achievements of women and how far we've come. How far we've come..

Yes, the ad is being pulled, but the fact that this concept could even get past the copywriter's desk is astonishing; that a company would want to use it as their corporate face, even more so. But it tells me that my gut feeling is right: as far as we've come, we've got a long way to go. There in living colour is the proof: a patriarchal control fantasy, a celebration of violence against women, considered by some to be an acceptable advertising campaign. While there'll always be some dark, putrefying corner of the universe where this kind of thing is acceptable, if that attitude so permeates society that it's reflected in mainstream advertising, the struggle is far from over. Advertising, after all, reflects attitudes, it doesn't form them.

Those who think feminism is no longer relevant would be wise to remember that the rights it won us were given not by choice but under duress. To assume we can keep those rights by anything less than constant struggle and constant vigilance is naive. We need feminism, all right, maybe now more than ever.